"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Melvina Brown’s sweet Christmas present

By on November 27, 2018 in Columnist with 0 Comments

Rod MolzahnBy Rod Molzahn

The Deak and Lucy Brown family celebrated Christmas of 1907 at uncle George (Deak’s younger brother) and aunt Margarethe’s home in Monitor.

Melvina Brown, named for her paternal grandmother, was the Brown’s sixth child and was 12 years old in 1907. Her Christmas present that year from her papa and mama was a small, six-inch by four-inch hard cover autograph book with 40 pages.

Over the next seven years pages were filled with a short note, poem, favorite quotes or aphorisms from Melvina’s family, friends and teachers.

Family entries from Christmas day fill the first pages.


Monitor, Wash.

Dec. 25, 1907

Dear daughter Melvina,

When this you see just think of me and the Xmas tree at your Uncle George and Your Aunt Margarethe’s and as the happy years pass I wish you a 100 more. Happy Xmas.

Your Papa,

R.A. Brown

George Brown had married Margarethe Lutzhoft on June 6, 1906. He was 43 and she was 27. That year George bought the Monitor store, a residence and several acres of land. Their first child, Carl, was a newborn at Christmas time, 1907.

Monitor, Wash.

Dec. 25, 1907

Dear sister Melvina,

Remember me early, remember me late,

Remember me ever as sister Abbie.

When you find a friend good and true,

Never give an old for new.

Abbie Brown

Your sister

Abbie’s line about “A friend good and true…” was a time honored Brown family quote.

Dec. 25, 1907   (The following were written on one page by the youngest siblings.)

Dear sister Melvina,

As ever your brother. Robert Newton Brown age 6

I love you sister.

Effie Brown age 4


When school began in January of 1908 Melvina took her new book along. Many pages are filled with notes, sentiments and advice from friends and teachers.

Monitor, Wash.

Jan.9, 1908

Dear Melvina,

Even a little child may have a pleasant voice that has a gentle tone. You can make other hearts glad if you wear a pleasant smile.

Your teacher,

Anna Perry

Monitor, Wash.

Jan. 9, 1908

Dear Melvina,

Attempt the end and never stand in doubt,

Nothing’s so hard but search will find it out

Your teacher,

Jessie Kinney

Monitor, Wash

Jan. 9, 1908

Dear Melvina,

A jolly fellow is hard to find

But when you find one jolly and fine,

Hang to his coat tail day and night.

Your schoolmate,

Lucretia Weythman

Lucretia was the daughter of James Weythman who came to the valley with Deak and Lucy in 1895.

Monitor, Wash.

Jan. 9, 1908

Dear Melvina,                           For Get Me Not

Happy may you live,

Happy may you die.

Sitting on the woodpile

Eating punkin pie.

From your schoolmate,          

Pal Chamberlain

Monitor, Wash.

Jan. 9, 1908

Sister Melvina,                                               For Get Me Not

Love many.

Trust few.

And always paddle your own canoe.      

Your sister,                                                      

Lutie May

Monitor, Wash.

Jan. 10,1908

Dear Melvina,

Leaves may wither, flowers may die.

Friends may forget you but never will I.

Your loving Aunty,

Margarethe Brown

Monitor, Wash.

April 18, 1908

Dear Melvina,

True friends are like diamonds, precious and rare,

False ones are like autumn leaves, found everywhere.

Your friend,

Mrs. C. Fisher

Monitor, Wash.

Sept 16, 1908

Dear Melvina,

If wisdom’s ways you’d wisely seek,

Five things observe with care.

Of whom you speak, to whom you speak

And how and when and where.

Your teacher,

Lina Roys


More friends, teachers, a cousin and two rhymed couplets about marriage for 14-year-old Melvina.

Monitor, Wash.

Jan. 10, 1909

Dear Melvina,

The men who try to do something and fail,

Are much better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.

Your Loving friend and schoolmate,                                                         For Get Me Not

Mildred Beagle

Monitor, Wash.

Dear Melvina,

When you grow old and ugly as young folks sometimes do,

Remember that you have a Friend that’s old and ugly too.

Your Friend,

Minnie Dawson

Monitor, Washington

Oct. 21, 1909

Dear Melvina,

Just as the pansy petals fold closely about their hearts of gold,

So in these pages may there be enfolded golden thoughts for thee.

Sincerely, Your teacher,

Lulu Livingston

Monitor, Wash.

Oct 22, 1909

Dear Melvina,

When you get married and your kids are cross,

Pick up the broom and say I am the boss.

Yours truly,                                                                            For Get Me Not

Belle Handlin

Monitor, Wn.

Oct. 29,1909

Dear cousin Melvina,

When you get married across the lake,

Send me some of your wedding cake.

From your cousin,

Zelpha Smith


The sentiment, “For-Get-Me-Not” is a constant thread winding through many of the pages, sometimes as part of the message and often as small additions to the page corners.

Monitor, Wash.

Feb. 21, 1910                                       For Get Me Not

Dear Friend,

Tis sweet to be remembered,

Tis sad to be forgot,

But let me gently whisper

O, dear friend, for-get-me-not.

Your loving friend and schoolmate,

Angie Brunton

(Always remember Sunday Feb. 20, 1910)


More For-get-me-Nots on page corners and a wonderful bit of wisdom.

Monitor, Wash.

April 18, 1911

Dear Melvina,

Man is unjust, but God is just

And finally justice triumphs.

Your friend,                                       For Get Me Not

Frances McCorkle

Monitor, Wash.

April 18, 1911

Dear Melvina,

The sober second thought is always essential and seldom wrong.

Your friend,                                           For Get Me Not

Fern Taylor


1913 filled the remaining blank pages with more thoughts from family, friends and teachers.

Reardan, Wash.

Jan.5, 1913

Dear Melvina,                                                                 For Get Me Not

There is a place for my name in your album.

There is a place for my name in your heart.

There is a place for us both in heaven,

Where good people never depart.

Your friend,

Clara Lutzhoft

(Remember one Sunday in July, 1912.)

Clara was a cousin of 18 year old Melvina living in Reardan, Washington. George Brown owned the Reardan Hotel for three years. Margarethe was working at the hotel when she and George met.

Monitor, Wash.

March 25, 1913

Dear sister Melvina,

A very little ink and a one sent stamp and a pretty little postcard too

Can convey a deal of love and of sweet remembrance

When it’s sent from me to you.

Your brother,

Ora Brown

Monitor, Wash.

March 25, 1913

Dear Melvina,

May your joys be as deep as the ocean and your sorrows as light as its foam.

Your teacher,

Jennie Sandgren

Monitor, Wn.

Nov. 3, 1913

I take my pen in hand.

I grasp my paper tight.

But to save my soul,

I can’t think of a thing to write.

Yours till “Niagara Falls,”

Lovina Cook

Monitor, Wash.

Nov. 10, 1913

Dear Melvina,

Remember me early.

Remember me late.

Remember the boy

You kissed at the gate.

Your Friend,

Helen Miller

By the end of 1913 every page in Melvina’s book was filled.

She added some small comments to the book over the following years including the names of the husbands many of her childhood friends went on to marry.

Her wonderful Christmas present has lived on for 111 years to become our present in 2018.

May our gifts last as long and bring as much enjoyment.

Happy Holidays to all our Good Life readers!

Historian, actor and teacher Rod Molzahn can be reached at shake.speak@nwi.net. His third history CD, Legends & Legacies Vol. III – Stories of Wenatchee and North Central Washington, is now available at the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center and at other locations throughout the area.

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